LINE VAUTRIN, “POETESS OF METAL”



 



Today’s post is the perfect example to demonstrate how A-Gent of Style’s editing skills can be thoroughly challenged.

How can one possibly select the best, or the most representative or even the most characteristic pieces from such a prolific genius as Line Vautrin??




Once you enter the world of the ‘poetess of metal’ (so named by American Vogue in 1948), you’ll find that you’ve opened a tantalising Pandora’s box of sheer artistry and pulchritude. A-Gent of Style is weak at the knees everytime he sees any objet  by the late French artisan.

Last week in Paris’ Carré Rive Gauche, I discovered two small dealers who had rare mirrors and decorative objets by the late Parisian artisan. Divinely serendipitous.

But the very first time I encountered Line Vautrin’s work (pronounce “Leen”) was through her glitzy mirrors a few years ago when I was sourcing for clients. I was also lucky enough to attend Artcurial’s auction last month in Paris where the ‘Alouettes’ mirror sold for just under 20,000 euros.




In the last 8 years or so, Line Vautrin has had a resurgence on the antiques market and her highly coveted collectibles are worth considerable prices these days. You’d be hard-pressed to find an item that doesn’t command thousands of £,$ or €. To think The Guardian wrote on her death in 1997 that working with such humble materials [metals] was “something hitherto unheard of, and considered provocative, bad taste”!




Made largely in the 1940s and 1950s and mainly in bronze at a time when it was used only industrially and jewelry in bronze was simply not done, démodé or bad taste, Line Vautrin eventually made the metal fashionable. Her inventiveness and experimentations delighted post-war Parisiennes desperate for fantasy and ornament. The tireless Vautrin and her frenzied imagination certainly delivered.

63, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Pairs, 1946 (Vautrin is on the far right)

63, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Pairs, 1946 (Vautrin is on the far right)


Her widespread acclaim reached a fervent and devoted clientèle that included Brigitte Bardot, Christian Lacroix, Ingrid Bergman, Yul Brenner, Diego Giacometti  (they used the same foundry) and Princess Caroline of Monaco.

Le Cantique des Colonnes

Le Cantique des Colonnes


Her work even influenced Yves Saint Laurent when he designed the packaging for one of his perfumes.

Yves Saint Laurent's Cinema

Cinema by YSL


 What I found most beguiling and alluring about Line Vautrin is the joie de vivre, wit and humour that you find in her work be it her boxes, compacts or other decorative items such as buttons, clips, brooches and bracelets.




Their embellished covers reveal a variety of inspirations mostly from her childhood but also mythological figures, poetry by Rimbaud and Dante for instance or even declarations of love often concealed in symbolic word puzzles known as rebuses.

Vautrin’s whimsical objets seem to share the same repeated motifs, patterns and elements recalling ancient inscribed tablets, hieroglyphics and pictographs.

Each piece is incomparable with its unique marking and secret message, double entendre, pun or riddle.

Let’s take an example…

Je t'Aime en Silence

Je t’Aime en Silence


This box is called “Je t’Aime en Silence”, “I am silently in love with you”. This is a typical rebus by Vautrin where each image or letter, when said aloud, communicates a phrase. The first image is toy/game: “jeu”, then letter T: “T-eu” in French, then magnet: “aiman[t]”, saw: “scie”, and spear: “lance”.
If you add all the words/syllables together “jeu-t-aimant-scie-lance” and say them outloud, you’ll get: “je t’aime en silence”. Clever!


Through her art, Vautrin created her own idiosyncratic, pictorial language with its own coded meaning. She did say after all “a message in a minimum of lines—that’s my discipline.”




New York gallery Maison Gérard has brought together 100 silvered and gilt bronze decorative objets – mainly boxes but also necklaces, bracelets and earrings – created by the self-taught sculptress between 1942 and 1950 and amassed by a single collector over four decades.

If I could, I would make the trip to New York especially for this exhibition.

Here’s A-Gent of Style‘s tribute to a pioneering and formidable artist and her timeless, distinctive and dazzling metal containers.

Aren’t they just DIVINE!

Marchand de Ballons

Marchand de Ballons / Balloon Seller
Les Roseaux

Les Roseaux / The Reed

Qui s'y Frotte S'y Pique

Qui s’y Frotte S’y Pique (Ki scie frotte six piques) / If You Go Looking for Trouble, You’ll Find It

Tu es l'Amant de mes Pensees

Tu es l’Amant de mes Pensees (tu haies l’amant deux mets pensees) / You are the Lover of my Thoughts

Sait-on jamais

Sait-on Jamais…

Les Filles de Zeus

Les Filles de Zeus / Zeus’ Daughters

Jeux de Carte

Jeux de Carte / Card Game

L'adolescence

L’adolescence

Feuille

Feuille / Leaf

Je T'aime Beaucoup

Je T’aime Beaucoup (jeu t’M beau coup / I love You Very Much

Cigare case

Au fil des Tracasseries

Au fil des Tracasseries…

Laissez Couler…

amour, roi de ton coeur

Amour, Roi de ton Coeur / Love, King of your Heart

La Mer / The Sea

Arbre de Vie

Arbre de Vie / Tree of Life

La Grace est Divine / Grace is Divine

L'Anemome et L'Ancolie

L’Anemone et L’Ancolie / Sea Anemone and Columbine

la Parole est d'Argent et le Silence est d'Or

la Parole est d’Argent et le Silence est d’Or (la pas ro l haie d’argent haie le si lance haie d’or) / Speech is Silver, Silence is Gold

L'Amour Soutient

L’Amour Soutient…

Je T'Aime en Silence

Je T’Aime en Silence

Feuilles de Lauriers Entrelaces

Feuilles de Lauriers Entrelaces / Interwoven bay leaves

Empreinte

Empreinte /Fingerprint

Coffre

Coffre / Safety Box

De la Poudre

De la Poudre / Powder

Boite Coeur / Heart Box

Le Langage des Signes

Le Langage des Signes / Sign Language

Trianon / Les Pavés du Roi

Trianon- Les Pavés du Roi / Trianon – The King’s Cobblestones

Cordages

Cordages / Ropes

Plume

Plume / Feather

Love Makes Time Fly

L’Amour Fait Passer le Temps / Love Makes Time Fly

Tout ou Rien

Tout ou Rien / All or Nothing. My favourite rebus: Toutou” is an informal word for a dog; this dog is named “Rien” (Nothing) as shown on his collar. “Toutou Rien”!

Aquarium

Aquarium /

M'inspira le Retour Vers Toi

M’inspira le Retour Vers Toi / It Inspired Me to Return to You

Des milliards de Fois s'en Vint puis s'Envola lAmour (:Des milliard 2 fois 100 20 puits 100-vola l'amour) / Billions of times love came and then flew away

Des milliards de Fois s’en Vint puis s’Envola l’Amour (Des milliard 2 fois 100 20 puits 100-vola l’amour) / Billions of Times Love Came and then Flew Away

La Source Murmure...Sans Fin Même Ton Amour

La Source Murmure…Sans Fin Même Ton Amour (La sous-r-c-e mur-mur cent fin m thon amour) / The Soothing Sound of the River Flows Endlessly like Love

The Sun and the Moon

Le Soleil et la Lune / The Sun and the Moon (the Moon is inside the box, at the back of the Sun)

Ophelie

Ophelie / Ophelia (inspired by Arthur Rimbaud’s poem of the same title)

Le Defricheur de la Foret Vierge / The Deforester of the Jungle

Je T’Aime Aujourd’hui Plus qu’Hier et Moins que Demain (Jeux t’M O-Joue-R-D’U-I plus KI-R haie moins queue deux-mains)/ I Love You More than Yesterday and Not as much as Tomorrow

La Foule / The Crowd. A single smiling individual stands out from the masses. Can you spot him?

La reconnaissance est la mémoire du Coeur / Gratitude is the Memory of the Heart

La reconnaissance est la mémoire du Coeur / Gratitude is the Memory of the Heart

Icare

Icare / Icarus

Mauresque

Mauresque / Mooresque

Toi Mon Amour (YOu, My love), poem from Jacques Prevert

Toi Mon Amour / You, My love (poem by Jacques Prevert)




Last but not least, here are the two pieces A-Gent of Style saw, touched, held, caressed,  in Paris last week. SIGH…

Visages Etoilees

Visages Etoilees. Superb

Feuille

Feuille

 

For further information, visit the marvellous Line Vautrin website created by her daughter Marie-Laure Bonnaud-Vautrin and also the brilliantly informative blog Decoration – Ancient & Modern by American Interior Designer who reviewed Vautrin’s boxes last month.

 

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